Eight
years ago, Google didn’t exist. Five years ago, it didn’t have a
business model. Now, it has a $10 billion revenue run-rate, $10 billion
in cash, $4 billion of operating cash flow, 8,000 employees, dominant
global market share of the fastest-growing and most profitable
advertising business in history, and $120 billion of well-deserved (if
still expensive) market capitalisation.

Google is already not only the largest internet company in the world, it is the largest media company in the world. It is coming up fast in the rearview mirror of one of the largest technology companies in the world – a giant that, when Google was born, was the largest and most powerful company in
the world (a giant that now, in part because of Google, is worth half
of what it was worth back then, and, in Google’s business, is little
more than an also-ran).

What’s more, Google has BALLS. Already
this year, the company has spent about $1 billion on land, buildings,
servers and technology, about as much as three of its biggest
competitors combined. It is successfully attacking entrenched
incumbents that in a decade of the industry history no-one had been
able to lay a glove on (Yahoo! in search, Yahoo! and Microsoft in
email, Yahoo! in Finance, eBay/Paypal in commerce). It has stolen the
industry’s excitement, innovation, and fire, made everyone else look
lazy and incompetent in comparison. It has announced, with pleasure
(and a wink), that it is building the infrastructure necessary to
support a $100 billion company – and with each passing quarter it is
making this plan seem ever more sane. It has matured in its
communications and decision-making. It has delivered a dozen
spectacular quarters in a row. It has…

Are there “buts”? Yes,
of course there are “buts.” But to focus on the “buts” is to miss the
forest for the trees. There’s no way to know how long Google can keep
this up, but as long as it does, the only appropriate big-picture
response is awe.

Peter Fray

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